......And the buildings came crashing
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……And the buildings came crashing



By Joseph Edgar

And the buildings came crashing. That seems to be the lot of Lagosians. Buildings crashing down, killing innocent and
hapless people who have done nothing wrong but being citizens in the wrongest country.

This morning as I jog in a bid to lower the blood pressure following the incessant stress living in Nigeria’s most powerful city, something crosses my mind. As I jog through the Fadeyi area of Lagos, I see very old buildings, some as old as the mud huts in my village but plastered with cement and painted to hide the clay. One particular one crosses my mind. It is brown in colour, a storey high but obviously made of mud. Still standing in its elegance and housing a community of families. I stop and stare at it wondering why it has not come down despite the fact that it is obviously over a hundred years old.

As I continue my jogging, I come across so many more of such buildings and the realization that when they were built we obviously did not have the kind of governmental supervisory and regulatory environment. Despite these, the buildings built with native intelligence remain strong and still standing centuries later, and if you juxtapose this against the so called modern buildings you will begin to see the ruination that marks our existence as a nation.
So called modern buildings are falling left right and centre as our people will say. Despite so called stringent government permits and inspections, our buildings still find a way to turn themselves into weapons of mass destruction. The combination of greed, eagerness to cash in on the huge deficit that is housing delivery, corrupt and colluding officials, government failure in electoral promises regarding mass housing all have come together to turn Lagos into a mass grave.

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This is why you see my anger when I see beautiful colonial edifices that used to litter areas like Ikeja GRA, Queens street in Yaba, Ebute Metta and Ikoyi being brought down only to be replaced with these ugly and poorly built monstrosities.

We have been blessed with a glorious past which these old buildings evidence. When I see the very few left I weep, for I know that it is only for a while. They would soon be brought down with all its history only to be replaced with structures that would soon collapse carrying with it souls.

There used to be a magnificent colonial edifice at the Yabatech junction. It stood there with so much elegance and was of a Portuguese and Brazilian heritage. It held the interest of passers-by and made you wonder just how it was built. I once ventured in and the elegant wooden floor held your gaze, still shiny and beautiful. The quality of the work, the sheer craftsmanship was really wonderful. By the time I took this tour, the building had already been taken over by artisans and miscreants and I knew that it was only a matter of time.

True to form, some months later it was pulled down and today I hear a Hall for wedding reception would soon replace it. This is really sad. The Latino-Brazilian-Portuguese heritage of Lagos is fast fading, replaced by crazy incredulity and a madness that cannot be comprehended.

The government should stop giving these permits. These old buildings should be curated, bought off its owners and kept as family treasures; remodelled and refitted like they do in other sane climes.

The Obama visit to Cuba showed me buildings that I once saw in Lagos. It made me cry because these buildings are mostly all gone.

We are truly at the depth of our sorrows.

RipplesNigeria …without borders, without fears

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